Progression of Verbal Teaching and Individual Technique

One of the more difficult concepts in teaching is how much information to convey to a new student.  Instructors obviously want the new student to learn the movements properly, and have an understanding of the concept and use of the movement.   Over the years of instructing, it has become apparent that each student’s understanding will vary depending upon age, mental facility and maturity.   The result is that I have endeavored to adapt my language level, concept explanation and detailing of movements to the individual student. 

            Some time ago, I had the privilege of teaching a seven year old his third or fourth class.  I was challenged to teach the middle block in Chonji.  The student said to me, “Watch me do this block now.  I really practiced.”  He performed the movement, but the stances were incorrect, his legs were not bent, his angles were wrong, and the movement was really a downward elbow strike, rather than a middle block.  Rather than defeating his enthusiasm, I encouraged him, saying, “That is much better than before.  Keep practicing.”  I told him the truth (it was better than the last time) and then began to analyze further my teaching methods for the benefit of my students, in the development of proper technique.   It is apparent that each student visualizes the movement in a different manner.   They view the movement in their mind and “feel” that they are doing the movement correctly. I am now using a “hands on method” for small children, and demonstrating more to adults and advanced students.  

            Over time I have progressed to the “patient” stage of teaching.  I noted that each student progresses at his or her own pace.   If I am patient, and work diligently at conveying correct technique, the changes will take place.   The students become stronger, more mature, and realize that the instructors really care for them.   However, a caution ensued: if I wait too long for the student to mature, etc., then he or she may engrain wrong technique in their thought-action process, which may be very difficult change later.

            This was, and still is, the challenge: to learn to communicate with each student on an individual basis.  A teacher is someone who teaches truth “that is actually learned!”   My students are a reflection of my ability or inability to learn and teach.   This is a constant concern to me, and I hope to those who work at our schools.

The patterns exemplify life, so the movements show the importance of each facet of life.   Each correct movement lends itself to the development of power, and each correct facet of life lends itself to individual power in life itself.   If we are able to communicate and demonstrate each movement properly, the students will make the necessary corrections, thus enhancing their lives and Taekwondo.  

The twenty-four patterns, exemplified in our pattern system, represent life.  I see each individual movement and technique as a facet of life, or as a picture of each area of personal character development.  In the process of developing each movement within the pattern, we picture “correction” and advancement in our own lives.  The greater the detail and preciseness of each movement, the greater the pattern is enhanced.   Each pattern, representing the living of our lives in a twenty-four hour period (life itself), then compliments the entire pattern system.  The fact that no pattern is performed perfectly, demonstrates the difficulty of living life perfectly.   I view the patterns as a system of personal growth.  As the individual movements improve, the pattern improves and the entire system of patterns becomes evidence of our continued training and development.

 If I view Taekwondo in this manner, then I am actually teaching aspects of character, which will allow the student to mature in their development of individual character and view of life.  Every facet, or quality of life, is critical to our overall development as a person.  Teaching this model, I am thrilled that the students are learning positive concepts, which can change their lives forever.    

The teacher deepens his/her understanding of the art, and the student grows further in his/her knowledge.   Each of us hopes to achieve a certain sense of excellence in our teaching, which will allow us to better our teaching skills in accordance with the need of each individual student.